Friday, August 21, 2009
Forest for the trees
No wonder the Town Mangler avoided public comment on the "draft report" of the blue ribbon committee commissioned over 1.5 years ago to analyze our $60+ million town budget. Like me, he probably can't figure out what the Hell they are trying to say.
Reminds me of my Umass freshman days where I would spew garbage into a paper and hope the Professor would separate the wheat from the chaff.
I find it odd they would collect and compare statewide data "selected on basis of population, per capita income, land area, median family income, equalized property valuations, and operating budget."
Students comprise about half of Amherst's 35,000 population. And as State Senator Stan Rosenberg has pointed out many, many times (when pressured to get more $ out of Umass for Payment In Lieu Of Taxes), the state counts students equally as year-round residents, the vast majority of whom work and make decent annual salaries.
Many students do not work, or work under the table--thus skewing the criteria for comparisons.
The major problem with Amherst is minor math: over half of town property is tax-exempt (owned by Amherst College, Umass, Hampshire College and the town Conservation Department). And of the half that is on the tax rolls, 90% are homes and only 10% commercial property.
Amherst needs more businesses and for the tax-exempts to step up and carry their bloated weight.
Click to enlarge/read (warning: snooze alert)